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Oct 19

Getting off the Roundabout

Posted by: Ken Simpson in DRJ Blogs

Ken Simpson

This is my first post on the DRJ blog, I appreciate the invitation to contribute and hope the readers derive some value from my contributions.

My primary aim will be to promote, or at times provoke, discussion. So I am going to link together an “opinion piece” on the blog with a discussion on the DRJ LinkedIn group. Sometimes it might even start the other way around!

I often write from a different perspective than many commentators in the BC/DR industry. Like many of you I came to the industry via the IT sector and the Disaster Recovery discipline - that was back in 1986. Since then my path has diverged as I moved in and out of Business Continuity. I have been an Executive and manager - one of those people we lament that don't understand/support BC - so I often comment on BC from their perspective, and their needs.

These days I am unlikely to write about routine "how to" subjects, there are plenty of knowledgeable people around who do that. Instead I am more interested in promoting critical and unconventional thinking and its application to disciplines such as risk, BC and DR.

My primary interest is the potential options for the future of BC, both for the practices and the practitioners. So it was with some anticipation of worthwhile debate that I read a question posed by an experienced BC colleague recently.

What are the key trends in BCM currently and where are we headed as a discipline? What might we identify as the Top 5 trends and how is the industry changing?

Too often it seems these debates are trapped in a “magic roundabout” - going around in small circles bounded by past practice. At times defining current practice by the values and framing of the past.

To me a good example is the current trend to widen our focus to address supply chain issues and the preparedness of our suppliers. However many simply do this by asking to review a copy of the suppliers BC Plan and/or to review their BCMS process.

Addressing BC in the Supply Chain is a perfect opportunity to break out of our current roundabout and move on - to embrace community approaches to preparedness and recovery, rather than to continue to apply the single enterprise, compliance framework of the past.

Some readers may have attended DRJ Fall World recently, where the theme was “Strategies for Resiliency and Compliance”. Perhaps this theme is an apt description of the tension and some of the inertia that keeps us on our current roundabout. Do we choose the wider, less well defined, path towards resilience - or frame the problem in the historic context of compliance and management systems thinking?

The future of the disciple will be shaped by how we frame the problems and practices and how we interact with our organisations and other practitioners on a day-to-day basis.

How can we encourage a debate about trends and the future that recognises this different framing? Especially when we often cannot perceive the constraints or the biases that stop us reframing the problem.

Instead of a Top 5 trends - what would we define as the "Top 5" constraints that are holding BC where it is today? 


I encourage BC practitioners to widen their perspective, and their knowledge and thinking. We can only achieve that by reading outside the narrow confines of BC/DR technical articles.

If you would like to explore some of the thinking behind this, which is derived from organisational learning and development, do a search for the terms Single Loop Learning and Double Loop Learning. Read and reflect on how we might reframe and shape future trends.

In the interim, I would appreciate your views and feedback on the DRJ LinkedIn group.